Yosef ben Matityahu (the contemporary historian who called himself Josephus Flavius) was born of a priestly family; he was appointed commander of the Galilee at the outbreak of the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66 CE and undertook the fortification of several towns, the key fortress being Yodefat.
In 67 CE, the Roman army under Vespasian (who was soon to become Emperor of Rome) besieged the city, which held out for 47 days. Josephus himself describes the siege, the suicide pact of the last defenders and his own surrender to the Romans. (Wars III, 7)
Remains of the Roman siege ramp were found in the northern part of the town. Evidence of the battle that took place here includes dozens of iron arrowheads, ballista stones and heavy rolling stones. The skeletons of some 30 men, women and children in a water cistern, are silent, but vivid testimony to the fate of Yodefat's inhabitants.
A personal memento, created by one of Yodefat's residents, is a flat stone (10 x 9 cm.) with incised drawings: on its face is a structure with a stepped podium and gabled roof (a mausoleum of the type decorating ossuaries used for burial in Jerusalem at the time); on the reverse, a crab is depicted. These motifs have been interpreted as representing death (the mausoleum), and the time of the defeat - the Hebrew month of Tamuz, whose sign is the crab.
The excavations were conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the University of Rochester, New York under the direction of M. Aviam and W.S. Green. During the 1992-1994 seasons, D. Adan-Bayewitz participated in the excavations on behalf of Bar-Ilan University.